Friday, February 18, 2005
This morning I'm still thinking about Eudora Welty's short story "A Worn Path," which I taught last night, and about the character Phoenix Jackson. I gathered my students around me and had them read the story aloud. We talked about the hunter that Phoenix encounters in the woods, who rescues her from the ditch but also points his gun at her in arrogance. We considered the old woman's journey into town and the obstacles she faces as a Christian allegory --- she, the Christ figure emerging from the thorny bush and arriving at her destination because of her determined love for a child. We also discussed the mythical phoenix, rising from the ashes, and the blend of this myth with the Christian symbolism. Phoenix is so like a small, frail bird, but she rises each year at a certain season (around Christmas) and follows the Natchez Trace into town to the doctor's office to get medicine for her grandson. Though her memory fails her occasionally while she makes the journey, she knows she has arrived when she sees the framed certificate (diploma) nailed on the wall with its golden seal. When we talked about the Christian symbolism in that, one of my students brilliantly pointed out that the golden seal suggested "King of the Jews."